IN ONE WEEK’S SPAN, I heard opera for the first time and then seven days later listened to an internationally-known Somali singer perform. Both right here in Faribault. In Central Park.
What a delight to experience these performing arts locally, to be exposed to something new to me.
And at 6 pm Friday, September 10, I’ll be back in Central Park, enjoying “Arla Mae’s Booyah Wagon,” a play presented by Minneapolis-based Sod House Theater.
If I’m sounding a bit giddy, it’s because I am. I love the arts and feel grateful for our local Paradise Center for the Arts. Yet, I often yearn to see more. But I don’t want to go into the metro. And, truth-be-told, there’s always cost to consider. Even in attending local arts events. I expect others in Faribault face the same barriers.
So I feel such gratitude for our long-running free summer Concerts in the Park series. And I feel thankful, too, for sponsoring groups like the City of Faribault Parks & Recreation Department and the Paradise Center for the Arts and the local businesses and residents who helped fund the special events I attended recently.
When Mixed Precipitation brought its The Pickup Truck Opera, Volume 1: The Odyssey to Faribault on August 26, I wondered how I would respond. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I needn’t have concerned myself as the adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey proved lively and entertaining with dancing and over-sized puppets and toe-stomping music. Plus opera. And it was performed on the grass, in front of the historic bandshell from the bed of a blue pickup truck. I felt like I was in a small village of yesteryear being entertained by a traveling troupe.
The feel was completely different on September 2, when I set up my lawn chair in Central Park to hear and watch Dalmar Yare, a Somali entertainer from Minnesota and with family ties to Faribault. He describes his music as a blend of traditional Somali styles with hints of western influence.
I quickly found myself swinging my crossed left leg to the tempo of the upbeat music. I didn’t understand what Yare sang in a language foreign to me. But I understood the joy I felt, the joy I saw. Throughout the park, local Somali children, teens and adults gathered to listen. Many danced, especially the kids. It seemed part concert, part celebration, part reunion. Simply joyful.
While I listened, I observed the crowd. I noted the open affection of Somali youth for one another. Young men draped arms over shoulders as did teen girls. Preschool girls in their flowing dresses and hijabs ran hand-in-hand across the park. I noticed, too, a stunningly beautiful 20-something layered in a golden dress and matching hijab, fashionable mini purse dangling from her shoulder. The vibrant colors and patterns of dresses and hijabs swirled like a kaleidoscope. An ever-changing gallery of art.
Dressed in my casual attire of jeans, a tee and a zipped sweatshirt with the hoodie occasionally pulled up to provide warmth and protect me from the rain, I felt under-dressed and conscious of my white-ness. And that’s OK; I needed to feel this. I only wish more long-time Faribault residents would have attended.
Now this week I’ll learn about booyah, a rich and flavorful stew that is supposedly an Upper Midwest tradition, although I’ve never eaten it. Booyah will theme the Sod House Theater musical comedy about Arla Mae, a rural Minnesotan claiming to operate the state’s first food truck out of which she serves her famous booyah. The play aims to spotlight buying and eating fresh local food. Thus the involvement of James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Kim in creating a special booyah recipe for the production. So what goes into this stew, which is traditionally cooked outdoors in large kettles over a wood fire? You name it: a mix of meats and an assortment of vegetables—onion, potatoes, rutabagas, cabbage, carrots, celery, peppers…
I envision a collage of shapes and colors. Art in a kettle. Art that is new to me. Served to me. Right here in Faribault. In Central Park.
NOTE: “Arla Mae’s Booyah Wagon” will also be performed in neighboring communities on these dates and at these locations:
Keepsake Cidery, rural Dundas, 6 pm on Thursday, September 23
Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm, rural Waseca, 6 pm on Friday, October 1
Northfield Central Park, Northfield, 6 pm on Thursday, October 7
© Text Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
What a wonderful cultural experience.
It was, Keith. Good to hear from you. You and your family have been in my thoughts with the storm/flooding in NYC. I hope all is well.
All is good Audrey. Luckily we live in a section of the city that is well above the rivers and any storm surge.
Oh, Keith, I am thankful to hear this. Thank you for replying and assuring me that all is well with you and your beautiful family. I’m sorry, though, for all that New Yorkers and others along the East Coast (and the South) have endured. So much loss and suffering.
Yes, this was too much. Unfortunately this may be the norm for the future. Our new state governor is well aware and thankfully she is setting up safeguards for the future.
On a good note, I took some much needed time off from work and was able to see one of three new additions to our family. I have a new great-nephew that lives not from from Nicole’s mom. My brother now lives close by to that part of the family as well. It was a lovely visit upstate. I also have two great nieces born during lockdown, but unfortunately too far away for a visit. Maybe next year. I hope to see my mom around Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed!
Keith, this, too, is wonderful to hear, that you took some time off and spent it with family. Much-needed. I sure hope you can see your mom. I know how badly you want to see her again. It’s hard, this separation during COVID.
You are welcome. I care about you and your family.
What fun and unique experiences. So glad you were able to take advantage of some wonderful events safely.
All events were outdoors in the park, where we can safely distance. I’m thankful for this as I won’t attend a crowded indoor event. Not a lot of people are masking in Faribault. Very few…
What FUN! I love art in all its medias, especially music and performance art. Happy Exploring – Enjoy 🙂
Art. It adds so much to our lives. Thank you for appreciating art like I do.
Looks like some interesting events…so glad you were able to attend.
We’ll be out of town in October when the Arla Mae’s comedy is in NF.
Looks like fun!
Oh, Valerie, you would have enjoyed both. Next time I will alert you of such events.
So many fun and culturally diverse entertainments in Faribault! Thanks for sharing.
Yes, it’s been nice to have these events, outdoors, where I feel more comfortable. And I so enjoy experiencing new-to-me performing arts.